Amendments to Tasmanian Teachers Registration Legislation — Working with Vulnerable People

14 November 2019

Teacher Registration and Registration to Work with Vulnerable People

The Teachers Registration Amendment Bill 2019 (Tas) (Amending Bill) is intended to close a gap in the links between the processes in Tasmania for teacher registration and registration to work with vulnerable people.

The Registration to Work with Vulnerable People Act 2013 (Tas) (RWVP Act) established a centralised system for undertaking background checks and registering people to work with children and vulnerable people.

To teach in Tasmania, a teacher must be registered under the Teachers Registration Act 2000 (Tas). Since January 2017, teachers in Tasmania have also been required to have a current registration under the RWVP Act.

Currently, if a teacher has their registration to work with vulnerable people suspended or cancelled, or they surrender their registration, the Teachers Registration Board does not have the power to automatically suspend or revoke their teacher’s registration. It is necessary for the Teachers Registration Board to undertake a disciplinary process to remove a teacher from the register. In the interim, the teacher could continue to teach.

The Amending Bill would allow the Teachers Registration Board to suspend or cancel a teacher’s registration immediately in circumstances where the teacher no longer holds a registration to work with vulnerable people. To afford procedural fairness, it would be a requirement to give the teacher written notice, setting out the grounds for the suspension or cancellation. The teacher would have 10 days to provide written reasons as to why their registration should not be cancelled or suspended. Notice would also be given to the teacher’s employer and corresponding registration authorities in other states and territories.

The Teachers Registration Board may reinstate a teacher’s registration if satisfied that the teacher is currently registered under the RWVP Act and is of good character and fit to be a teacher.


Australian Teacher Workforce Data Strategy

The Amending Bill would also provide for the Teachers Registration Board to participate in the data-sharing activities of the Australian Teacher Workforce Data Strategy, being led by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL).

According to the AITSL website, data on initial teacher education and the teacher workforce, to build a national picture of the teaching profession, will be linked annually from:

  • registration data from state and territory teacher regulatory authorities
  • initial teacher education from the Commonwealth Department of Education
  • the Australian Teacher Workforce Data Teacher Survey, with the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare de-identifying the data before it is incorporated into the Australian Teacher Workforce Data collection.

The Amending Bill contemplates other data-sharing initiatives, such as the response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, recommendations from the National Review of Teacher Registration and the National Teacher Workforce Strategy, agreed through the National School Reform Agreement.

The Teachers Registration Board would need to be satisfied that the authority with whom it shares data has in place procedures to ensure information is protected from misuse, theft, loss, unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.


How Will Schools Be Affected?

Schools in Tasmania should note the proposed changes, in particular, the consequences of a teacher no longer being registered under the RWVP Act.

The National Australian Teacher Workforce Data Teacher Survey will be voluntary. AITSL states that is has partnered with the teacher regulatory authorities, who will invite their registered teachers to complete the survey annually. It appears that this initiative will not impose any additional requirements on schools directly.

Helen Juillerat

Helen is a Legal Research Consultant at CompliSpace. She completed a Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Queensland and has worked in legal publishing and in roles in the public higher education and health sectors focusing on governance, policy and compliance.